Home > Uncategorized > California Students Rank 47th in Science

California Students Rank 47th in Science

We beat Mississippi, Alabama and DC.

The California Department of Education has a news release about the new test scores, headlined “State Schools Chief Torlakson Notes Gains Among Latino Students on NAEP 2011 Grade Eight Science Assessment.”


The results are not broken down beneath the state level.  California statewide results here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/nr/caresults.asp

The OC Register story, showing 22% passed the test (meaning, of course, that more than 94% failed), is here: http://www.ocregister.com/news/students-353581-state-scores.html

  1. Smart 5th Grader
    May 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    The dumbing down of America is not an accident. For the rich to become exponentially richer, the educated middle class must disappear and become poorly educated working poor.

  2. Mitch
    May 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Maybe so, SFG, but this is relative to the other American states. Dog help us all.

  3. HUUFC
    May 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    The dumbing down is being done by educational professionals, are they the evil rich? Or are they trained by our left wing colleges and universities in political correctness, self esteem, first and education teaching skills second?

  4. Mitch
    May 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm


    Or might it be the teevee? Or the parents?

    Or the lower per-student funding for California’s students — http://toped.svefoundation.org/2010/09/09/wading-through-data-on-student-spending/

  5. ok
    May 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    116%. That should cue the court house mathematicians to correct their cardboard signs.

  6. Anon.
    May 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Since D.C. is not a state, shouldn’t California be 48th, or is there another state below us.

  7. Mitch
    May 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm


    There’s the damned problem with plagiarism. I just took the OC Register’s headline. I guess we’re 48th of 51. How close to the 116th percentile is that?

  8. Anon.
    May 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for the update. Sort of reminds me of the Randy Newman line in “Rednecks”: “Good ol boys from LSU, go in dumb, come out dumb too.”

  9. Thorstein Veblen
    May 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    The best predictor of academic achievement is socio-economic status of the parents. A policy which promotes upward mobility of the poor and increasingly desperate middle class would be a good start to reversing this trend. Exacerbating income inequality is going in the wrong direction, at least if we believe that smarter kids would be good for our country.

  10. Anonymous
    May 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    The dumbing down is being done by educational professionals

    BS. The public school system began a downward spiral the minute politicians decided they knew how to educate our youth. No Child Left Behind is systematically dismantling public education. The root goal is to hold schools to a literally impossible standard, declare them (all of them) as failing, privatize them and eliminate teacher’s unions. Then, whoo, a perk with private schools (ahem, “school choice”) is a conservative makeover of curriculum from science to American history, and, of course, introduce prayer and Bible study.

  11. Mitch
    May 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    3:57 is certainly repeating something I’ve heard from people involved in the public schools. Every time you meet the target, the target moves and you’re supposed to do better. When you don’t, you’re (by definition) a failure. I agree with 3:57 that the real goal of “No Child Left Behind” is to privatize the educational system, creating a new profit opportunity for capitalism, or for the kleptocracy we’ve evolved.

    I think in the schools as elsewhere, the people actually involved in doing the real work tend to be dedicated, abused, and under-appreciated. Teachers, though not teachers aides, have achieved reasonably fair pay in the public system, so people want to divert the funds to private companies which will pay teachers less. I don’t think there’s any evidence that the typical private system does better than the typical public system, when each system is held to the same constraint (educating everyone who turns up, regardless of the difficulty).

    Public or private, the parasitic and growing layers upon layers of well-paid administrators may not always be as dedicated or as focused on the actual goals of the organization as the line staff — when you’re talking about education, that means the actual teachers and teachers aides.

    That’s not to say there aren’t dedicated administrators — from what I’ve heard, the local Superintendent of the Humboldt County Office of Education is extraordinary, as is a large portion of his admin staff.

    I’ve heard differently about some of the (ridiculously plentiful, IMO) individual school districts. What is it, 30+ little kingdoms for a population of 100,000? How much administrative duplication do you think that implies?

  12. Anon.
    May 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Those who can, teach; those who can’t, administrate.

  13. High Finance
    May 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Maybe Mitch did terrific in science but he obviously flunked arthimetic.

  14. Ponder z
    May 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Wow, we all have our conspiracies dont we. And, if 22% pass should not 78% fail? Or have I too been dumbed down? And what is with the Followship Church?

  15. Anonymous
    May 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Mitch, don’t worry about the salaries of teacher’s aides (“paraprofessionals” in today’s lingo, or classroom aides in 1980s lingo). Few public schools can afford them now, even at minimum wage. My elementary school used to have 1 to 2 per classroom, full-time. After 7 years of cuts in state funding, this is our last year for any aides (now just 50 minute aides in kindergarten only, who shuffle between multiple classrooms because nobody will work a 50-minute-a-day job, and pull extra time as playground monitors, cafeteria work or anything else they can scrounge up). You’ll also find the school janitor driving a school bus and monitoring playgrounds as well.

  16. Anonymous
    May 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    7:58 here again. Oh, but about administrators Mitch, yes they are well-paid, but they aren’t the problem. Schools are being starved of (state and federal) funding into failing status. It is a systematic process… starving schools and forcing deep staffing cuts while demanding schools improve every year on standardized tests until the impossible year comes when EVERY student (even ones with learning disabilities) are expected to achieve proficiency in all subjects, or the schools get labeled as failing and become subject to even more financial sanctions. It’s a process designed to privatize public education.

    Public charter schools are also part of that process (they starve regular schools of students — and thus funding — and don’t have unionized teachers). In California, the state produces an annual list of the top failing public schools, but by law it exempts public charter schools from that list — even though public charters fail at the same frequency as traditional public schools.

    The frustrating thing is that Democrat politicians support the destruction of our educational system.

  17. Anonymous
    May 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    This must be a particularly embarrassing subject for you HiFi, what with your position in the education system.

  18. walt
    May 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    “. . .but he obviously flunked arthimetic.” I didn’t pass that either, HF. . .is that like cosmetic?

  19. Anonymous
    May 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    “If evolution is true, why help the poor?” Uh, because we evolved that way. Helping people predates religion by oh, I’d say at least a month.

  20. Jeebus
    May 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    If god exists, why help the poor?

  21. Anonymous
    May 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    “if evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve”

  22. Anonymous
    May 11, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    More education dollars are flowing to private corporations than at any time in our history. They are making billions selling textbooks and mandatory tests while they push legislation like “No Child Left Behind” so schools will teach to the test and students lack critical thinking skills – perfect sheeple.

  23. Jamie Dimon
    May 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm
  24. High Finance
    May 12, 2012 at 6:58 am

    LOL Larry, Mitch, Heraldo or whoever you are, you couldn’t be more wrong about my “position”.

  25. Mitch
    May 12, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Ponder z wonders:

    what is with the F[e]llowship Church?

    Many people today misunderstand the nature of science, confusing it with technology. Others deem it a religion. Either attitude could be responsible, at least in part, for declining science test scores.

    Science is fundamentally another branch on the same tree as democracy.

    It says you increase knowledge by making predictions, checking out whether they fit incoming facts that might refute them, producing statements that others can confirm or deny, and telling everyone the details of how you came to your statements. When a community confirms your results, they are considered more likely to be true. When many members of the community are unable to confirm your results, they become suspect.

    Clearly, that’s the ideal, and science as actually practiced has its flaws — stickiness of old theories, increasing demand for high tech, same old politics But I think the previous paragraph sums up the core of science.

    Contrast that with religion, which says “this is correct, because we say so,” and no facts you bring to the table can change that, because the correctness of what we say cannot be challenged — challenge just shows the weakness of your faith.

    Contrast that with technology, which, in today’s society, is the bastard child of science and our seemingly insatiable desire for more “stuff,” more comfort, and longer lives. Technology is shiny, it grows thanks to increases in scientific understanding, and it can potentially speed future scientific discovery, but it is anything but science.

    When the people overseeing education in a community confuse science with religion or technology, that would be demoralizing for those who teach and understand science and potentially discouraging for those who are being taught. If the people who actually teach science fall prey to the same misunderstandings as the society at large, they lose much of their ability to convey what science is about.

    When belief or disbelief in scientific theories like evolution become political banners rather than statements of our best collective understanding of what we’ve collectively observed, I’d imagine that can completely change the perspective of a young mind on science.

    I realize many people will think I’ve oversimplified religion. We disagree. Yes, I understand that for many, religion is one’s own personal faith rather than an acceptance of any dogma. But one’s own personal faith, by its very nature, is not available to others to examine, confirm, or refute. Yes, you can see the fruits, and that can tell you whether or not the faith might be helpful to the person, but you can’t objectively examine anyone else’s faith, at least until neuroscience has had some more time, and we can perhaps literally visit one another’s minds.

  26. May 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

    So many things to be proud of…

  27. Anonymous
    May 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    “If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.”

  28. Ponder z
    May 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    So schools in California are doing poorly because of funding cuts?
    Lets look at the dollers per student in the fifty states. We in California are paying more than ever (for retierment not teaching) in taxes. Why can other states (Blue) get higher SAT scores then CA for less $?

    #1 Utah SAT 1,114.00 ÷ $5,216.00 = 0.21

    #50 New Jersey SAT 1,005.00 ÷ $14,117.00 = 0.07


  29. Ponder z
    May 12, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Not too many big spending liberal Blue states in the first half, is there? Those leading states also have a higher faith base, family values. For me this whole issue is calling BS on government waste. Big Gov is kissing union ass in the class room. (See Wisconsin’s last election). Teachers who dont preform well should get the ax. No more gov/union protection or tenure.

  30. Anonymous
    May 12, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    It’s not the teachers who are sucking money out of education


  31. Anonymous
    May 13, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Why can other states (Blue) get higher SAT scores then CA for less $?
    Because there are fewer English as a second language and low income kids in those states.

  32. Ponder z
    May 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

    English should be the only language, prerequisite language, to get into school. Go to English class first. Asians learn English just fine. Why do we need to coddle people so much. Heads up, enablers on the left.

    Libs need votes, so they pander to every need. Even multilingual voting ballots.

  33. RefFan
    May 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Ponder z just summed up alot of Californias problems. Coddling is f**king our country up!!

  34. Fact Checker
    May 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Haters of a Feather …

  35. Anonymous
    May 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Once again, the best predictor of student performance is the socio-economic status of the parents. CA (and lots of other states) SAT scores lag because of the larger proportion of lower income, often hispanic families. There is a statistical correction factor to be had here. I’d like to see it applied. NCLB is a colossal failure and will be recognized as such. I hope that happens sooner rather than later.

    Everyone wants an easy answer, but it doesn’t exist. Put the effort into teaching, supply aides and materials, cut administration.

    Cutting pay, increasing workload, reducing support while demanding better results. When’s the last time you’ve seen that combination be effective in any industry?

    The results will come – there is no magic. We just have to make it a priority.

  36. HUUFC
    May 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Just think, English first, then school, how much more successful the students would be.

    Keep in mind also there isn’t enough money on the planet to satisify the demands of the government schools.

  37. What Now
    May 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    “Keep in mind also there isn’t enough money on the planet to satisify the demands of the government schools.”

    Empty rhetoric and closed minded hyperbole.

  38. Mitch
    May 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Keep in mind also there isn’t enough money on the planet to satisfy the demands of the government schools.

    Not quite.

    Actual FY 2010 spending for the Department of Defense was $691 billion, or $691,000 million, equivalent to about 6.9 million teachers at $100,000 each. Half the defense spending would cover 3.45 million teachers.

    Say every two teachers require an additional full time employee, paid the same as teachers, for support and administration — that reduces things to 2.3 million teachers and 1.15 million associated support and administrative staff, each funded at $100,000.

    The census says there are 60 million Americans ages 5-19. So you could completely fund the entire K-12 education system’s teaching and administrative staff with only half the defense budget, and have class sizes averaging well under thirty.

    So I’d have to say there IS enough money to satisfy the demands of government schools — it’s just being spent at the DoD and defense contractors.

    Consider that the only significant attack on US territory since Pearl Harbor was the September 11, 2001 attack, accomplished using box cutters. What are we buying for our $691,000 million?

  39. Mitch
    May 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    The answer, if you’re wondering, is artificially low prices on oil and other extracted materials and the satisfaction of major investors in the military industrial complex.

    Anyone who thinks we’ve bought peace or security is not in touch with reality, as 9/11 would have made obvious to a non-propagandized population.

  40. 713
    May 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Aren’t schools generally funded by the states? I was informed by the county that’s where 85% of my property taxes went – education.

  41. Mitch
    May 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm


    There’s nothing to prevent the feds from reimbursing the states.

    But my comments were merely to point out that if we chose to prioritize the schools (or anything else besides war) there’d be plenty of money available that’s currently handed to the military industrial complex. They were in response to huufc’s statement that there’d never be enough to satisfy the schools.

  42. Nobody seems to learn from history
    May 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    If our parent’s generation had listened to the likes of mitch all those new teachers would be needed so our kids could learn to speak nazi.

  43. HUUFC
    May 15, 2012 at 9:23 am

    My original thoughts on the education system were that the educational professionals are wrecking the system, there is plenty of money, they are paid well they all are college graduates what’s going wrong?
    Others have good points it’s not one thing but a combination of many things making for poor results. As for the federal government getting more involved, just look how the indian reservations or the post office is run. Now that’s a scary thought.

  44. Mitch
    May 15, 2012 at 10:04 am


    Dueling paradigms. I’m in.

    First of all, the postal system was privatized decades ago. But let’s look at it, if you wish.

    For about three minutes’ work at the minimum wage, any American can send a document to any other American, knowing that it will get there with 99.999% reliability. It doesn’t matter if the American lives in a remote town in Alaska and is sending their document to a remote town in Hawaii. That’s what government can accomplish.

    If the postal system had been left to private industry, then New York City to LA mail would be low cost, and mail to and from Humboldt County would cost a fortune. We’d all have our choice from among two leaders — Amerimail and NationsLetters — and eight second-rung mail carriers. All would devote a substantial part of their income to advertising, which would be of equal importance to delivery speed and reliability in attracting clients. There would be several classes of recipient, and to get your letters delivered at high speed, you’d need to join the frequent recipient clubs — Amerimail Speedy Select or NationsLetters’ Priority Prime.

    The waste would be enormous, but the people actually doing the work of delivering mail would almost certainly be paid less. The executives would have $50 million salaries in place, because every time their market share went up they’d negotiate a huge raise from their hand picked board, and every time their market share went down they’d just get a small raise from their hand picked board. The ad agencies would get more business, as would all branches of the media, which is based on advertising revenue.

    We’d all know how heroic the executives are, and how lucky we are to have a competitive market in mail, because the media would then tell us.


    Strangely, we never hear the story quite this way. All we ever hear about is how competition lowers costs.

    I’m sure under some circumstances, when regulations are in place and there is true competition on quality of product or service only, where advertising expenditures are explicitly limited to 1% of a business’ income, and where there are hundreds of small players none of whom have any chance of controlling the market, competition would lower costs just fine.

  45. Mitch
    May 15, 2012 at 10:26 am

    The vast majority of the computer industry today is the result of a few developments that don’t fit the media story line.

    First, UNIX, an operating system that was developed by a renegade team in the R&D group of AT&T, which was a government monopoly at the time. MS-DOS, which was Microsoft’s start, is a low quality stripped ripoff of UNIX, which was distributed free throughout the academic community. UNIX is still alive and kicking, with new life in the form of the Linux operating system and its variants (Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, etc…). The legend that Bill Gates is a computer genius is just that — a legend. He’s a genius at making money, though. Ever hear of Ken Thompson? Brian Kernighan, or Dennis Ritchie? Didn’t think so.

    Second, the WIMP interface — windows, icons, mouse, pointer — which was developed at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center. Xerox never made a dime on it, because their free marketeers couldn’t quite see why it mattered. Steve Jobs was not an idiot, hadn’t been dumbed down by the Ivy League, and saw a way to make millions of people happier, and millions of bucks for himself. Ever hear of Douglas Engelbart? Didn’t think so.

    Third, the ARPANET or Internet. The Internet was developed by academics getting money from the Department of Defense, because the way you get money from the American version of government is to insist that your work is relevant to war. ARPA is short for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The internet was developed in order to have the military’s command and control communications survive a nuclear war. The unintended consequence is that it is next to impossible to censor it. Fortunately, Facebook, et. al. will eventually work a way around that — even if you can’t censor the internet, you can make sure the only part of it anyone uses is corporate-owned and controlled.

  46. Mitch
    May 15, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Fourth, the “world wide web” and web browsers.

    It’s conceivable you’ve heard of Tim Berners-Lee. He was working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, when he invented the world-wide web, which lives atop the internet but is not synonymous with it. No corporation involved, just a government consortium of alien European socialist type governments.

  47. Just Watchin
    May 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Al Gore invented the internet. Everybody knows that !!

  48. Mitch
    May 15, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Just Watchin and all,

    Just Watchin has just given a great example of how the modern right wing media smear works. Al Gore actually never made that claim, despite being heavily involved in expanding funding for the internet. You might want to read this Wikipedia entry. Beware: if you have any integrity, then reading it will take away one of your scintillating conversational gems:


    I fully realize that pointing out the falseness of these little bits of intentional misinformation will never stamp them out — they are too useful to certain folks to expect that proving them demonstrably false will limit their use.

  49. HUUFC
    May 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    In 1999 interview on CNN Al Gore said, “I’ll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be. But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I’ve traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.”

    Sure he didn’t create it he just said it, lighten up, it’s funny. BTW, the USPS is losing one billion dollars a month

  50. Mitch
    May 16, 2012 at 7:21 am


    It has an element of humor, except for what it demonstrates about modern media and politics.

    Here’s the information about that quote provided at the Wikipedia link in my comment a few back:

    Former UCLA professor of information studies, Philip E. Agre and journalist Eric Boehlert argued that three articles in Wired News led to the creation of the widely spread urban legend that Gore claimed to have “invented the Internet,” which followed this interview.[53][54][55] Jim Wilkinson, who at the time was working as congressman Dick Armey’s spokesman, also helped sell the idea that Gore claimed to have “invented the internet.”[56][57][58] Computer professionals and congressional colleagues argued against this characterization. Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn stated that:

    “we don’t think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he ‘invented’ the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore’s initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet.”[54][59]

    Cerf would also later state:

    “Al Gore had seen what happened with the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, which his father introduced as a military bill. It was very powerful. Housing went up, suburban boom happened, everybody became mobile. Al was attuned to the power of networking much more than any of his elective colleagues. His initiatives led directly to the commercialization of the Internet. So he really does deserve credit.”[60]

    Former Republican Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich also stated:

    “In all fairness, it’s something Gore had worked on a long time. Gore is not the Father of the Internet, but in all fairness, Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet, and the truth is — and I worked with him starting in 1978 when I got [to Congress], we were both part of a “futures group” — the fact is, in the Clinton administration, the world we had talked about in the ’80s began to actually happen.”[61]

    Finally, Wolf Blitzer (who conducted the original 1999 interview) stated in 2008 that: “I didn’t ask him about the Internet. I asked him about the differences he had with Bill Bradley […] Honestly, at the time, when he said it, it didn’t dawn on me that this was going to have the impact that it wound up having, because it was distorted to a certain degree and people said they took what he said, which was a carefully phrased comment about taking the initiative and creating the Internet to—I invented the Internet. And that was the sort of shorthand, the way his enemies projected it and it wound up being a devastating setback to him and it hurt him, as I’m sure he acknowledges to this very day.”[62]
    Gore, himself, would later poke fun at the controversy. In 2000, while on The Late Show with David Letterman he read Letterman’s Top 10 List (which for this show was called, “Top Ten Rejected Gore – Lieberman Campaign Slogans”) to the audience. Number nine on the list was: “Remember, America, I gave you the Internet, and I can take it away!”[63]

  51. East Sea
    May 17, 2012 at 9:58 am

    I’m an American, living in Asia, and I’ve got news for all of you: these people are coming to eat your lunch. While the dumbing down and politically correct, sex obsessed indoctrination of American youth marches forward, Asian students are devoting their time to learning mathematics, engineering, computer science, martial arts, multiple languages, and family and civic values. Get ready for your new masters.

  52. High Finance
    May 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    You got that right East Sea.

    This country is losing its will to compete and work hard. The lure of letting the government become the mommy and take care of you is attracting more & more people.

    Personal responsibility is hard work. Being free to succeed also means the possibility to fail and that can be scary. Being a grownup is harder. Letting government take care of you means you are safe and can stay childlike.

  53. May 18, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Good thing too. Science sux.
    Make em study how to dig ditches and flip burgers, because that’s where they’re all gonna end up!

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